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Iran's New President Picks Reformist as Top Deputy

  • VOA News

Iran's newly-elected president Hassan Rouhani during a news conference in Tehran, June 17, 2013.

Iran's newly-elected president Hassan Rouhani during a news conference in Tehran, June 17, 2013.

New Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has picked a prominent reformer to be his top deputy.

Iran's state-run TV on Monday said the president chose former industry and mines minister Eshaq Jahangiri as his first vice president.

Jahangiri is a close ally of former reformist president Mohammad Khatami and would be first in line to take over as president if anything happened to Rouhani.

Late Sunday, Rouhani submitted the names of his Cabinet ministers to parliament. All are men and few are reformists, though many had served under another former reformist president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Two names that have been getting attention are Javad Zarif, the nominee for foreign minister, and Mostafa Pourmohammadi, the nominee for justice minister.

Zarif is a former ambassador to the United Nations and a fluent English speaker who has spent half his life in the United States. Some human rights groups have linked Pourmohammadi to the killings of Iranian political prisoners.

Rouhani swept to victory in Iran's presidential elections in June thanks in large part to the support of reform-minded voters.

During his swearing-in ceremony before parliament on Sunday, Rouhani said his administration "will try to build up better and more mutual confidence between Iran and other countries."

Rouhani takes office as Iran's economy suffera from high inflation and high unemployment, some of it due to ongoing international sanctions targeting Iran's nuclear program. The United States and many Western nations suspect Iran of trying to build nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies.

Following his election victory, Rouhani said Iran's "nuclear program is completely transparent but we are willing to show more transparency and to make clear to the entire world that the Islamic Republic's measures are within international guidelines."

Even though Rouhani wields power as president, major policy decisions in Iran still rest with the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

On Monday, the supreme leader appointed former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the Expediency Council. The council advises the supreme leader on key issues.

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